Light the Beacons! GIS Analysis of Fortress Inter-Visibility in Iron Age Armenia

Author(s): Tiffany Earley-Spadoni

Year: 2016


GIS analysis can helpfully intervene in highly-theorized debates about archaeological landscapes by allowing archaeologists to empirically evaluate assertions about (inter)visibility. In recent decades, visibility studies have clarified the sociocultural significance of structures such as tombs, settlements, signalling installations and other landscape markers. However, it is often difficult to evaluate inter-visibility and challenging to distinguish intentionally-constructed inter-visibility from spurious patterns that are the result of chance. This paper evaluates the regional distribution of Early Iron and Urartian fortresses in the environs of Lake Sevan, Armenia, utilizing survey data collected by an Italian-Armenian expedition. The investigation employs Social Network Analysis (SNA) metrics and random simulation to test scenarios regarding chance-versus-intentional placement, concluding that the placement of fortresses was the result of careful planning that ensured inter-visibility. This approach situates GIS analysis within a theory framework that includes landscape archaeology and highlights the potential of geospatial techniques to illuminate human agency in the past.

Cite this Record

Light the Beacons! GIS Analysis of Fortress Inter-Visibility in Iron Age Armenia. Tiffany Earley-Spadoni. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403459)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;